A sweet lesson in appreciating who we are rather than focusing on what we are not.

DAISY THE DIGGER

From the Whizzy Wheels Academy series

At Whizzy Wheels Academy, Daisy the digger learns that everyone has their own role to play and that she’s capable of things she’d never dreamed she could do.

There’s a lot to like in this book for heavy-equipment–loving toddlers. First, it’s durable—close to indestructible, even. Second, author Bently employs a broader vocabulary and more complex sentence structures than in many similarly themed offerings, making it a nice bridge to traditional picture books. It’s also nice to see a book for truck-loving tots that skews away from gender stereotyping of its characters and audience; here, there are no fewer than three named heavy-equipment characters with traditionally female names: Daisy, Clare the crane, and Tess the tractor. (Daisy and Clare both explicitly use feminine pronouns.) The story effectively deals with themes of handling disappointment, feeling left out, overcoming a lack of confidence, and recognizing that people (and trucks) have different strengths and weaknesses. When academy instructor Rusty announces that the vehicles will be taking a trip off the grounds to practice driving on real roads, Daisy’s excited until she learns that her heavy tracks aren’t built for roads. But when a landslide strands her friends, Daisy finds her heavy treads make her ideal to come to the rescue. Companion title Dylan the Dump Truck publishes simultaneously and introduces both Dylan and Emma the excavator.

A sweet lesson in appreciating who we are rather than focusing on what we are not. (Board book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-71124-332-3

Page Count: 20

Publisher: QEB Publishing

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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Watching unlikely friends finally be as “happy as two someones can be” feels like being enveloped in your very own hug.

THE HUG

What to do when you’re a prickly animal hankering for a hug? Why, find another misfit animal also searching for an embrace!

Sweet but “tricky to hug” little Hedgehog is down in the dumps. Wandering the forest, Hedgehog begs different animals for hugs, but each rejects them. Readers will giggle at their panicked excuses—an evasive squirrel must suddenly count its three measly acorns; a magpie begins a drawn-out song—but will also be indignant on poor hedgehog’s behalf. Hedgehog has the appealingly pink-cheeked softness typical of Dunbar’s art, and the gentle watercolors are nonthreatening, though she also captures the animals’ genuine concern about being poked. A wise owl counsels the dejected hedgehog that while the prickles may frighten some, “there’s someone for everyone.” That’s when Hedgehog spots a similarly lonely tortoise, rejected due to its “very hard” shell but perfectly matched for a spiky new friend. They race toward each other until the glorious meeting, marked with swoony peach swirls and overjoyed grins. At this point, readers flip the book to hear the same gloomy tale from the tortoise’s perspective until it again culminates in that joyous hug, a book turn that’s made a pleasure with thick creamy paper and solid binding.

Watching unlikely friends finally be as “happy as two someones can be” feels like being enveloped in your very own hug. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-571-34875-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Faber & Faber

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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Preschoolers enamored with construction equipment will enjoy this cheerful tale, which is simple enough for little ones just...

DALMATIAN IN A DIGGER

Four animals with heavy construction equipment arrive to build a treehouse as a surprise for a Dalmatian puppy.

The puppy awakens to loud, unexpected sounds and a foreshadowing glimpse of a big, metal scoop outside the bedroom window. The puppy joyously discovers an adult Dalmatian driving an excavator, called a “digger” in this British author/illustrator’s text. Just a couple of brief sentences describe the action of the digger, punctuated with creative sound effects incorporated into the illustrations in collage-effect letters. Another set of loud sounds precedes the arrival of a camel in a crane, followed by a duck in a dump truck, and a bear in a bulldozer. Each new piece of equipment has its own set of exuberant sounds that relate loosely to the machine’s function, such as “DUMP, SPLAT, CRASH” for the dump truck. The patterned text uses the machines’ sounds as a predictive device, with a dramatic page turn to reveal the next animal and corresponding construction equipment. Bold, movement-filled illustrations create a buoyant atmosphere, with jaunty animal characters and bright flowers and trees surrounding the construction site. There’s a bit of a logic gap between the heavy equipment and the concluding treehouse, as there are no carpenters shown building the actual house. Another small drawback is the gender bias in the four animal equipment drivers, as only one is identified as female; the puppy’s gender is not specified.

Preschoolers enamored with construction equipment will enjoy this cheerful tale, which is simple enough for little ones just transitioning into real stories. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62370-802-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2016

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